Between Aug 22 to 26, 2016, the 16th World Congress of Comparative Education Societies was held at Beijing Normal University (BNU), and it was the first time that the Congress was held in China since the WCCES’ establishment 40 years ago. Approximately 1,000 experts and scholars from more than 70 countries participated in the Congress.
The theme of the Congress was ‘Dialectics in Education: A Comparative Perspective’. The participants discussed around topics including globalization and localization, quantity and quality, marketization and publicity, tradition and modernization, equity and efficiency, self-governance and accountability, elite education and mass education, diversification and standardization, centralization and decentralization, teacher-centered and student-centered, feminism and masculism, adult education and lifelong learning, and relevant theories and methods of comparative education, so as to seek solutions to common and special problems of education worldwide.
On August 22, the opening ceremony was hosted by DONG Qi, President of BNU. Several special guests including CHEN Baosheng (Minister of Education of People’s Republic of China), LIU Chuansheng (Chairwoman of BNU Council), Carlos Alberto Torres (President of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies), and GU Mingyuan (Distinguished Professor of BNU and the Honorary President of the China Education Society) delivered their remarks respectively.
Minister CHEN extended his congratulations on the opening of the 16th WCCES at the beginning of his remarks. He expressed that it is the common aspiration of people throughout the world to enjoy a better education, Chinese people included. For the goal of building a moderately-prosperous society, and achieving ‘Education for All’, he noted that the Chinese government is committed to educational development based on equity, reform based on structural adjustment, and comprehensiveness based on quality.
LIU Chuansheng, the chairwoman of BNU Council, expressed her thanks to the leaders, scholars and the organizing committee with whose support this WCCES was successfully opened. She praised the unique role that comparative education has played in facilitating dialogues among various peoples and deepening understanding of different national and regional cultures. At such an age of deepening economic globalization and educational internationalization, she stated, comparative education undoubtedly is supposed to shoulder a greater responsibility to provide intellectual support for educational development and reforms in all countries.
Carlos Alberto Torres, in his role as President (now Immediate Past President) of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies, Distinguished Professor of Education and UNESCO UCLA Chair in Global Learning and Global Citizenship Education, remarked that comparative education is a field in perpetual transformation and globalization has a heavy impact on the field and its orientation. In addition, he noted that comparative education is enduring what could be perceived as an identity crisis, stating that that is why we need to understand what the comparative advantage of comparative education is in understanding the changing social context of education and some of the secular dilemmas of access, equity, equality, and quality of education throughout the world in order to ensure the comparative advantage of comparative education. Torres also pointed out that this field has evolved from its beginnings and progressed in terms of academic institutionalization and respectability.
GU Mingyuan, Distinguished Professor of BNU and the Honorary President of Chinese Education Society, reflected on the journey of China’s comparative education domain to bid for the host of a WCCES congress. He also summarized the educational achievements that China has made since its reform and opening up, but pointed out that there is still much work to do and much to learn for China’s modernization of education. He praised the role that the WCCES Congress plays for international exchange and he pointed out that at the times of globalization and networking, we need to think about educational problems with different mindsets with more exchanges among comparative educationalists in future research.
With respect to keynote speeches, Prof. WANG Yingjie of BNU and President of the China Comparative Education Society, discussed a two-year mixed method employed to study the current experiences of Chinese schools by students, teachers, parents and principals, found that there are various conflicts within Chinese schools, including the adherence and alienation of educational aims, the joys and sorrows of student growth, the deep anxiety and expectations of parents, the persistence and emancipation of teachers, the dilemmas and breakthroughs of principals, and the evolution and deviation of Chinese schools’ organization. He also discussed how the formation of normalized and standardized school education provided the possibility of inquiry-based teaching and personalized education and the future prospects of building a high-quality teaching profession by exploring new governance strategy, providing diversification curriculum, and innovating teaching techniques. At the end, Prof. WANG discussed China’s extensive and intensive educational international partnerships in the internationalization era.
Andreas SCHLEICHER, Director for Education and Skills, and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General at OECD, delivered a speech entitled Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives --- The Challenge of Connecting the Worlds of Learning and Work. His main point was that jobs, wealth and individual well-being depend on nothing more than on what people know and what they can do with what they know. He stated that there is no shortcut to equipping people with the right skills and to providing people with the right opportunities to use their skills effectively. He pointed out that OECD’ s Skills Survey (PIAAC) shows that poor skills severely limit people’s access to better-paying and more-rewarding jobs and it works the same way for nations: The distribution of skills has significant implications for how the benefits of economic growth are shared within societies. The presentation reviewed how we could anticipate the evolution of the demand for skills in modern societies and how the world of learning and the world of work can be better integrated to meet that demand.
Ruth HAYHOE, Professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, began by reflecting on the significance of the Congress being held at BNU. Her speech included three parts: Part One focused on China’s experience in educational development since the late 1970s, and the support provided by organizations such as the World Bank and the Canadian International Development Agency, which facilitated the rapid restoration of universities after the Cultural Revolution and dramatic progress in modernization. Part Two went on to profile China’s rich educational civilization and suggests that the normal university is uniquely suited to bringing that to a wider world. Part Three over-viewed China’s programs of support for educational development in Africa and Southeast Asia, and suggested that these embody forms of dialogue and reciprocity that have the potential to open up refreshingly new approaches to educational thought and practice globally.
Carlos Alberto TORRES delivered a speech entitled “The State of the Art of Comparative Education: WCCES at a Crossroads in the 21st Century.” He analyzed what the potential contributions and emerging challenges comparative education was facing as well as the potential roles of the WCCES to address these challenges in a growingly interdependent world and in the context of a more complex institutional and diverse professional setting.
Apart from the keynote speeches aforementioned, this congress also arranged 4 highlighted panels, 4 thesis poster sessions and 274 parallel sessions in the 5 days of the Congress.
CHEN Baosheng, Minister of China’s Ministry of Education
LIU Chuansheng, Chairwoman of BNU Council
DONG Qi, President of Beijing Normal University
GU Mingyuan, Distinguished Professor of Beijing Normal University
WANG Yingjie, Professor of Beijing Normal University and President of China Comparative Education Society, Keynote Speaker
Carlos Alberto Torres, President of the WCCES (2013-2016), Keynote Speaker
Andreas SCHLEICHER, Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General at OECD, Keynote Speaker
Ruth Hayhoe, Professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in
Education of the University of Toronto, Keynote Speaker